Never mind variety, anticipation is the true spice of life and is something Peter V. Brett really knows how to inspire.

We waited with baited breath for the third instalment of Brett’s Demon Cycle, and true to form he rewarded his fans generously for their patience. The Daylight War goes above and beyond the brilliance of the first two books in style, character and worldbuilding, action, suspense…basically all the elements that make a book worth reading over and over again.

The Daylight War picks up right where The Desert Spear left off, with all the major players recovering from the mind demon attacks, and spans the month until the next waning of the moon, when the demon Princelings will rise again in force. I won’t go into too much detail on the plot because after roughly 1,800 pages of demon-hunting goodness The Demon Cycle’s intricate plot lines are so interweaving that I will undoubtedly say something spoilerific. However some incentives for grabbing this book right now (as if you need any!) are the fascinating back story of Jardir’s first wife Inevera, some drastic changes and developments in Arlen and Renna’s powers, new breeds of demons with badass skills, inter-cultural negotiation and assimilation, Leesha actually being phased by something for once, Rojer becoming a very loveable hero, political intrigue from the demon underworld, and the first meeting between the two potential Deliverers since Jardir betrayed Arlen in the desert and the Painted Man was born.

Inevera’s backstory is one of my favourite parts of the book and something I was really looking forward to. Jardir’s powerful and beautiful wife has been something of an enigma up to this point and was given a bad rep in previous books with fleeting glances of her manipulative nature and quick temper. Now, Brett shows us how she grew to power and everything she has sacrificed to make a Deliverer out of her husband. The ordeals of her youth are as harrowing as any other in the harsh lands of the desert people but Inevera has strength and faith that rival every other character in the book and easily wins first place among my favourite characters by the time her story has caught up with the main plot. The characters of Inevera, Leesha and Renna all show Brett’s impeccable skill at writing strong women–something that’s often overlooked when building an epic fantasy tale–which is made all the more interesting when they are set against the backdrop of their cultures that often consider women beneath men in society, whether they admit it openly or not.

The development of the other main characters is ongoing and occasionally surprising, particularly in Arlen, who, in contrast with his newly acquired Jesus-esque powers (which have made him into some sort of tattooed cousin of Superman), has become drastically humanised by his relationship with Renna Tanner. It took me a little while to get used to the sudden change in our misanthropic hero, particularly as I felt slighted on Leesha’s behalf at his becoming promised to his childhood sweetheart, but my conflicting emotions regarding the characters just proves how real they have become in my mind and I got over it eventually as the couple are actually quite sweet together. Leesha and Rojer have seen the best of the ongoing character developments, practically walking off the page from Brett’s skill in creating them.

While the character development and worldbuilding continues to amaze me (the disjointed leaps in Inevera’s narrative that fill in unseen gaps of The Desert Spear is the perfect example of how well-planned this series is) I hope that Arlen and Jardir (and to some extent the other characters) are now as powerful as they are going to get and will end up relying more on their wits and strong resolve to win the day rather than their increasing superpowers. While their skills are exciting, creative and very cool I think it would be easy for them to fall back on the magic at this point rather than utilising the traits that make them such identifiable heroes in the first place.

The pacing of the book has improved from The Desert Spear where the entire first half was devoted to Jardir’s backstory before we met up with Arlen, Leesha and Rojer again. In The Daylight War, Inevera’s story is intermingled with present-day antics, each chapter encouraging page-turning fever to get back to another beloved character. However, with all the major action flying by in the last couple of hundred pages the ending does feel slightly rushed in comparison to the first two-thirds of the book, which focus more time on character development and detailed worldbuilding. While I don’t mind this in the least, preferring the everyday scene-setting and minor conflicts to the big battles (one of the best bits is a chapter devoted to fighting-free celebration that had me smiling for hours after I read it), it might discourage people who prefer their action to be more spread out.

Arlen and Jardir’s reunion is the climax of the book and I should tell you now, if you can’t bear cliff-hangers, do not read it until the fourth book is in sight. It’s intense and wonderful but if suspense could kill I would be a quivering pile of jellied innards by now.

A wonderful third part to a breathtaking series, The Daylight War deserves no end of attention and acclaim. Devour it now and be dragged back into the bittersweet anticipation as we begin the wait for book four.


By Steff Humm

Steff is a nomadic fantasy junkie who wanders around London searching for new books to eat. One day she will ask the wizard for the time and inspiration to write her own. Studying for an MA in journalism at the University of Westminster, she writes a lot about books and culture at You can also find her lurking on Twitter via @SteffHumm.

3 thoughts on “The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett”
  1. Completely agree with this review, Steff!

    I know there has been mixed feelings about Peat’s second and third books (I say mixed, 80-90% positive and 10-20% negative), but I think that’s all down to his unique storytelling methods. Most people expect a story to continually press forwards. What Brett does is take his time moving forwards by moving backwards, laterally and laterally backwards to move forwards 😉

    It’s an admirable and unique quality to Brett’s books that, I think, are the reason he has captivated so many loyal fans. Those who are annoyed are generally those who enjoyed Arlen’s rise from a nobody to a potential hero and were expecting a continuation of that kind of adventure following completion of book one. The fact of the matter is that Brett isn’t telling Arlen’s story anymore, he is telling the story of an entire civilisation from the perspective of multiple people from multiple perspectives and the idea of Arlen as the sole hero, maybe even hero at all, died in the first book…

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